The Angolan leader of a peacekeeping operation deployed to Lesotho in late November by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said he’s pleased with the progress to date.
Matias Bertino Matondo, head of Preventive Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL), told Angop that the political climate was tense when he arrived with 269 military, police and others on the security force, among them 162 soldiers from Angola. That’s improved, with about 40 percent of the mediation process between the government and political opposition achieved. The mission is set to last through May, Matondo said.
The SADC force was deemed necessary following the September assassination of Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motšomotšothe, the former commander of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), which followed the 2015 death of previous military chief Maaparankoe Mahao. The creation of the peacekeeping force was approved by the SADC in September after a fact-finding team identified “a volatile security situation” and an “urgent need to assist the Kingdom of Lesotho in restoring law and order” after Motšomotšothe died.
The African Union completed an assessment of the Lesotho mission earlier this month. “Among other things, the team observed that there was a general view by all stakeholders in the Kingdom of Lesotho that SAPMIL has acted as a deterrent,” the SADC said. “In this context, ever since its deployment, the security situation in the country has been relatively calm and there is an improved working relation between and amongst the various security agencies.”
Prime Minister Tom Thabane has promised his commitment to implementing and reporting SADC-mandated reform goals, and Matondo said the SAPMIL force is assisting in helping to achieve that success.
Image: SADC file